SAN DIEGO – Three indictments were unsealed in the Southern District of California today charging 29 individuals with international drug trafficking offenses. The unsealing of the indictments comes at the same time that the U.S. Department of Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) announced sanctions against nine of the defendants for their ties to the Beltran Leyva Organization, a violent, Mexico-based group involved in trafficking drugs to the United States for over two decades.
SAN DIEGO – Alvin Pates of San Diego pleaded guilty in federal court today to bank and tax fraud charges, admitting that he participated in a scheme to deceive banks by using straw borrowers and bogus financial information to obtain loans.
SAN DIEGO – Sean Winston, the CEO of Atlas Capital Management, LLC, pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he fraudulently obtained $875,900 from COVID-19 pandemic-era loan programs. According to his plea agreement, Winston held Atlas Capital Management out to the public as an entity that financed business projects, but in fact performed no business and was a shell corporation. Winston admitted that he submitted five loan and loan-forgiveness applications containing false statements to trick lenders into giving his company relief funds.
SAN DIEGO – Eduard Ghiocel and his wife, Floarea Ghiocel, were sentenced in federal court today to 36 months and 30 months, respectively, for laundering $1.4 million in proceeds from dozens of grand thefts, robberies and swindles targeting mostly elderly victims in San Diego County.
SAN DIEGO – Constantin Bobi Sandu, who admitted that he masterminded a scheme to steal more than $5 million in California unemployment benefits intended to help workers affected by the pandemic, was sentenced in federal court today to 40 months in prison.
SAN DIEGO –Aaron Leib Kobisher, the alleged leader of a drug trafficking organization based in San Diego and Tijuana, made his first appearance in federal court today following his extradition from Spain to face fentanyl, methamphetamine, and cocaine trafficking charges.
SAN DIEGO – An indictment partially unsealed today charges 14 defendants with fraud and money laundering offenses for a scheme centered around fraudulent unemployment applications submitted to the California Employment Development Department during the pandemic. The indictment alleges the fraud netted the defendants almost $5.2 million in funds from the state of California.
SAN DIEGO – Thomas Zolezzi of San Diego pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that he committed fraud to obtain almost $3 million intended to help those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In his plea agreement, Zolezzi admitted he submitted five loan applications containing false statements to trick lenders into providing the relief funds. He used the borrowed funds to pay his personal expenses. As part of his guilty plea, Zolezzi agreed to pay restitution of $700,884.75 to the Small Business Administration (“SBA”) and $2,238,910.24 to Capital Plus Financial.
SAN DIEGO – Blanca Estella Gomez of El Cajon pleaded guilty in federal court today, admitting that she managed and directed drivers who transported undocumented immigrants within the United States. In her plea agreement, Gomez said she coordinated with individuals in Mexico who smuggled immigrants across the border. Gomez directed her drivers to pick up the immigrants in the United States, told the drivers where to take the immigrants, and told them how much money to collect.
SAN DIEGO – A federal grand jury has indicted a former civilian employee of the Naval Information Warfare Center in San Diego and the owner of a Virginia-based defense contractor for a bribery scheme. According to the indictment, Phillip Flores, owner of Intellipeak Solutions, bribed James Soriano, the former employee, with free dinners at San Diego restaurants including De Medici Cucina, the University Club and Bluewater Boathouse Grill and Ruth’s Chris in Virginia as well as tickets to the 2018 World Series and the 2019 Super Bowl.
SAN DIEGO – Beginning today, the U.S. Attorney’s Office and the San Diego Anti-Hate Coalition launch their second “United Against Hate Week,” joining cities throughout California for a series of events that promote tolerance and respect.
SAN DIEGO – The CEO of San Diego-based Ethos Asset Management, Inc., which offers financing to international businesses, was arrested in New Jersey Sunday night in connection with fraud charges in the Southern District of California.